Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, paperback novel, 280 pages, first published by Viking in 2001, this edition published by Puffin Books in 2002.
Artemis Fowl is not an average twelve year old boy. He is a criminal mastermind isolated on an enormous estate in Ireland, where he is constantly accompanied by his bodyguard, Butler, but is not restricted by any parental or guardian influence. His family’s vast fortune, accrued over many generations of criminal Fowls, has been lost, and Artemis is determined to restore it. A spot of supernatural kidnapping for ransom should do it, all he has to do is find a fairy to kidnap. Though he is a genius with an elaborate and thorough plan, when he captures Captain Holly Short of the Lower Elements Police Reconnaissance Unit (LEPcon), he gets more than he bargains for.
I’d been thinking about reading Artemis Fowl for a while (I wanted to see whether it lived up to the hype), when I came across a copy in excellent condition in a secondhand bookstore. It was also on sale, so I think it was a sign that it was time to read it! I was not disappointed. From the first chapter I was hooked. It is a fast paced adventure full of fantastical creatures, villains and plenty of action. There are fairy police, an egotistical centaur, a humongous troll, goblins and a tunneling and devious dwarf, all of which come to life in the pages of Artemis Fowl. And Artemis himself is a very interesting character. There are many stories of young heroes saving the day, but not too many telling the exploits of a young criminal using his excessive intelligence to create havoc and amass a fortune. I liked this different perspective, even though he is undoubtedly the baddie, Artemis didn’t seem like the enemy. I found myself hoping there would be some way for both Artemis and the fairies to come out on top.
The plot of Artemis Fowl contained suspense and surprises, and it wasn’t predictable as some novels for younger readers are. The characters developed throughout the story too, providing a richness to the tale, and leaving me wanting to find out more about the Lower Elements, the People and Artemis. There were also little things left unknown, which could be revealed later in the series.
The complexity of the storyline and some elements of violence probably lends itself more towards upper primary to lower high school students, though with guidance younger children may also enjoy this book. I thoroughly enjoyed Artemis Fowl, and I had trouble putting it down to sleep at night. When I can, I will find more of the books from the Artemis Fowl series to read. I am very interested to find out what trouble Artemis is plotting next.